Ladies and gentlemen, your 2011 Stockton ’88s!

21 March 2011

It’s spring, and in the spring a young man’s fancy turns lightly to thoughts of … fantasy baseball.

And boy, do I have a team this year.  Just on my active roster, I have seven .300 hitters and seven .500 sluggers.  My batters have hit over 2300 homers in the last twelve seasons.  In that same span, my top five starting pitchers have racked up 563 wins and more than 5300 strikeouts.  Five of my players are in the Baseball Hall of Fame, and two more are likely to go in once they’re eligible (plus another is in the Basketball Hall of Fame).

Wait, you say — Hall of Famers?  You mean you’re not using active players on your fantasy team?  What kind of wacko team is this?!?

Simple.  It’s a team in the greatest league in the world (personal opinion): Legends of Baseball.

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Projecting 2011: One month in

2 February 2011

Back on January 4, I wrote about the projects I believed God was guiding me to work on for 2011.  What struck me about them at the time was how mundane they were — no grand public gestures or insurmountable obstacles, just stuff-around-the-house kinds of things.  I was a little put out, until I realized that a) part of the purpose was to focus me by getting me to concentrate on fewer activities than usual, and b) the underlying subtext was that I was right where God wanted me for now.

So that’s all right, then.  But how am I doin’ with what God has me doin’?  Four and a half weeks into the new year, that seems like a good question to ask.  So why don’t I take a look, and see how well I’ve been keeping up …

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The anniversary that wasn’t

24 January 2011

Yesterday was my wife Nina’s and my twelfth wedding anniversary.  Nowadays, it seems like spending twelve years married to the same person without committing a homicide is fairly rare, and considering some of the problems we’ve had to work through over that time (internal and external), we do rather feel we’ve beaten the odds.  So it’s kind of a big deal, certainly worthy of a celebration.

And what did we do yesterday to commemorate such a momentous occasion?  Well … pretty much nothing.

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The joy of data processing

12 January 2011

The creation of data is a holy act; not really, but occasionally I need to feed my own caricatures. — baseball writer Bill James

Okay, I haven’t posted for six days.  Not great.  Six days really was longer than I expected to be absent from here.  Yeah, it’s not my longest absence (that one was closer to six months than six days), but still, some of you have subscribed to this space and I just don’t like to leave people hanging.

So why the extended moment of silence?  Well, two things:

  1. I’m still working on an update about my son Sean and his illness, which I thought would be the next post.  Every time I’m ready to write it, it seems like there’s something new to add (good news, almost all of it).  So now I’m aiming for next Monday, also his seventh birthday.  It’ll be worth the wait, trust me.
  2. I’m getting ready for the next fantasy baseball season, pounding stats into an Excel spreadsheet.  And having the time of my life doing it.

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“Patience is a virtue, but I don’t have the time!”

21 January 2009

(The title, in case it sounds familiar, is stolen from an old song by Talking Heads. — r.a.)

I was planning to write today about the ballpark draft in the fantasy league I’m in, Legends of Baseball. But, as the philosopher Lennon said, life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.

Legends of Baseball is a fantasy league where you can put together a team of players from throughout baseball history, from 1871 to the present. It’s what is called a “head-to-head” league, which means that instead of just having your players collect stats, you actually create a team and compete against other people’s created teams. That, in turn, means you’re working through a full 162-game, six-month schedule, and you have to set up pitching rotations and batting orders, define bullpen and bench roles and even decide your manager’s tendencies – when to bunt or not bunt, how often your players will steal bases, when you bring in relief pitchers, all that jazz. All of it is run through a baseball-game simulation software package called Diamond Mind, probably the most accurate baseball sim around. It’s not easy, but it’s a ton of fun.

All of that simulated game-playing is affected by the simulated ballpark you’re playing in, just as real games are affected by the real stadiums. A hit that would be a home run in Boston’s Fenway Park could end up just another fly out at the Oakland Coliseum, for instance, due to the positions of the fences, the temperature, the humidity, or even the altitude if you’re playing in Denver or Atlanta. There are all kinds of what are called “park factors” for every stadium that’s ever existed. The upshot is the owners in Legends of Baseball have to choose their home parks carefully. Beside that, the ballpark draft is the first event of the upcoming season, sort of like a Fantasy Baseball New Year celebration. And this year, it was scheduled for January 20 …

… and nothing happened.

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